Our trip had serious issue with the Apache permit system last year. We tried to get the Apache permit online before arriving, and were not successful. So we decided to pay at the box at the put in. That was a no go, they removed the box. We were told by a couple commercial guides that the k-Mart in Show low was the only place where the permit in question could be purchased, because the online system does not work most of the time. With this new information in hand we sent a runner while we were rigging boats to secure a permit in Show Low. He returned 3 hours later empty handed, and explained that the printer at the k Mart was not working, and they could not sell any permits. This is when the Apache rangers arrived, and starter contacting people in the parking lot. Since we were fully rigged, had already won and paid for the correct permit from the feds, had already set shuttle and did everything reasonabe to secure the Apache permit, we shoved off before they could come talk to us. It made the trip much more stressful, and I felt at the time that the Apache were making the permits difficult to get to increase fine revenue since the fines are much larger than the cost of the permit. Since they did not contact us, or fine us, I am more inclined to believe the issue is probably incompetence related.
It seems ridiculous to me that the feds will issue a permit, that requires another possibly impossible to obtain permit to use. Why don't they roll the 2 permits together and charge one fee at the time of payment? That would insure that all permit holders have both permits, and also eliminate the confusion caused by having 2 seperate permits required for the same stretch of river.